I come from the world of Sports Medicine, specifically Athletic Training. Which, to many people’s surprise doesn’t have anything to do about working out or weight loss, but rather focuses on getting injured athletes back to their sport. And some of my colleagues would argue that we really prefer teaching people how to prevent those injuries all together since it makes our lives a lot easier. 😉
So why am I telling you this?
Because I think a lot of you don’t truly understand my background and what my goals are for you. Sure, I want to help you reach those health and training goals, but really I want to give you the tools so you can do it on your own. I love being by your side, but like any parent, I want to set you free.
It seems that I’m the minority on this. Since I started working as an athletic trainer about 20 years ago, I’ve seen an alarming trend. Many health care professionals who work with injury and pain clients seem to just want to keep them around forever. Instead of equipping them with the tools to not only recover from injury but move forward and fly, they are creating more obstacles for clients to overcome.
A woman was asking me about a neck injury that she had and the pain associated with it. The pain was keeping her not only from participating in the activities that she loved but also in life in general. She explained that she had been to see both her chiropractor and a massage therapist that week, and it helped for a bit, but now the pain was back and she wasn’t sure if she should schedule additional appointments with these practitioners.
When I asked her about a home care program, she was mute. Looking at me like I had suddenly switched over to a foreign language. “You know, a maintenance program. Some stretches and corrective exercises, or lifestyle changes to help you overcome the root cause of this pain.”, I said. Still a blank look. Why? Because this wasn’t given. She was adjusted and worked on, and then just sent home to wait until the next appointment. This isn’t right. If we’re seeking a professional with and pain or condition, we need to be given a full spectrum of tools to address the reason why we are experiencing the pain and not just a modality to provide temporary relief.
When I was working at the high school, I used to tape A LOT of ankles. Something, sadly, that many people feel is the athletic trainer’s sole talent. It’s not. What I kept seeing were athletes coming to me with little round stickers on various parts of their bodies. When questioned they explained that their chiropractor (he had teamed up with the football coach behind my back to give “treatments” to the player – so unethical BTW) had given them these “Energy Dots” to help relieve their pain. Since the chiropractor wasn’t too willing to chat with me, I gained that these dots were placed on various acupuncture points to help the chi flow better in the body. Great. I’m OK with alternative medicine except when the holistic approach isn’t truly holistic. I get a little ticked with my patients are being charged money for extra chi energy and not given tools that will help maintain alignment for free. That free modality being simple exercises, movement analysis, and lifestyle suggestions to help them move and training better all around.
This all goes for our physical therapist, podiatrists, and orthopedics who are ordering custom orthopedic inserts for you, but not giving you any exercises to train your foot and hips to better support your body and activities. Those things are dang expensive, and over time it is possible to earn off these supports and rely on our feet to do their jobs again. How do I know? I’ve done it for myself and my husband. We’re spending the money saved on a vacation instead.
And my athletes who are released from rehab with a brace. Maybe they did a few exercises to help initially, but a full return to play program wasn’t completed and so they are released back to sport with only a brace for protection and prevention. When I was working as an athletic trainer at a school I was able to intervene and make sure these athletes we give the proper progressions back to their sport, but most of us don’t have that as adults. And so we schlep along for the remainder of our lives post-injury either wearing an uncomfortable brace, or being so paralyzed with the fear of reinjury that we stop playing altogether – our preferred sports, venturing out for an activity or really engaging in a playful life at all.
So what’s my point in all of this?
You deserve more. You deserve to be treated like a competent adult who is capable of living life without the crutch of a therapist, trainer, or weight loss product. I like to tell my clients that it’s my goal to get them to a point where I am no longer needed. I want to be the bridge on their journey from injury and pain back to living a life of play – be that sport or just engaging in an active life. If you have to come back and visit me occasionally, OK. I love catching up, but I don’t need your money to be a consistent source of income for me. Because if you’re still seeing me, then you’re not living life. My goal is to give you tools that help you overcome obstacles and move forward. Tools that fit your injury needs and also fit into your life in a reasonable way. To wean you off of the support and bolsters and let you run free. To help you move, heal, and absolutely play.
You won’t find me hawking required supplements and braces. You might have me suggestion something for the immediate needs, but you’re also going to have to homework in order to move away from those transitional supports. This is how healthcare and rehabilitation should be approached. I am biased because this is how I entered the healthcare system as a certified athletic trainer. This is what was expected of me – to give an overall plan to help an athlete rejoin his team and community, while I watched from the sideline. Ready to help again if needed, but more likely soaring in the joy of watching that athlete flourishing in their sport and knowing that I helped get her back there.
This is what I do.
I’ve moved from my athletes in the training room so I can help more of us weekend warriors and masters athletes get return to play. To show us women in our 40s that we deserve the same treatment and tools as our kids are given. That we are capable of being accountable for our own path from injury back to play and are not dependent on a healthcare practitioner to remain active well into our Golden Years. Support when needed, and then kicked out of the nest and allowed to fly.
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